Why do people put an "a" before verbs.
We wanted to eat. Quisimos comer. We started to dance. Empezamos a bailar. Why does the second example have an "a" between the two verbs, while the first one doesn't?
I've also noticed this A show up in places I never would have expected it. For example, when I was playing Pokémon, every time I got into a battle, it said "A luchar contra ____". Also, when I was watching a video, a comment read "A divertirse con este video."
What does this "A" before the verb mean?
Why do people put an "a" before verbs.
Because people are following grammar rules of sentence construction.
Some verbs require the "a" of verb direction and some don´t, so it´s a matter of memorization. Where you don´t have to memorize is when using the personal "a", which is always, ie: "Te voy a dar este regalo a ti" (the last part "a ti" is not required but just for emphasis, but the personal "a" is still required).
JulianChivi is right.
In Spanish, we have verbs that are followed by a preposition such as "a" or "para" that complements the meaning of the verb. They are meaningless without that preposition. Some verbs are accompanied by the preposition "a", and most of them also show a sense of "direction" or "intention", which is the case of empezar in your example.
If you think about it, is the same in English, as you say "I love Gina", but must say "I talk to Gina" or " I wait for Gina" , these verbs are meaningless without the preposition.
Some verbs with preposition are: Ir a/ Comenzar a/ Empezar a
I would like to point out that something similar happens in English.
Some verbs need a "to"
Listen to me. - Talk to me.
Hear me. - Love me.
I know of no rule books with a list of verbs that need a "to".
Look under the "Learn" tab here "Spanish Grammar" "Verbs" then "Verbal Periphrasis"
When you wonder "Why?" something is said the way it is you can check the vast Grammar resource here.
I couldn't find the answer to why "a luchar contra...etc" but maybe someone else will answer.
I don't think it's that the verb requires an "a" before it but more like the previous verb requires an "a" after it, example,
Usted aprende a hablar, a entender, a leer y a escribir el español. You are learning to speak, to understand, to read and to write Spanish.
The "a" is required after the verb aprender, to learn to.
I would be interested in knowing which text preceded "a luchar" and "a divertirse".
Following on from this, below is a list of some of the verbs followed by "a"
acercarse a - to approach
acertar a - to manage to
acostumbrarse a - to be/get used to
alcanzar a - to manage to
animar a - to encourage to
aprender a - to learn to
atreverse a - to dare to
ayudar a - to help
bajar a - to go down to
comenzar a - to begin to
comprometerse a - to undertake to
conducir a - to lead to
contribuir a - to contribute to
convidar a - to invite to
cuidar a* - to take care of
decidirse a - to decide to
dedicarse a - to devote oneself to
desafiar a - to challenge to
disponerse a - to get ready to
echar(se) a - to begin to
empezar a - to begin to
enseñar a - to teach to, show how to
forzar a - to force to
impulsar a - to urge to
incitar a - to incite to
inclinar a - to incline to
invitar a - to invite to
ir a - to be going to
limitarse a - to limit oneself to
llegar a - to manage to, succeed in, end up
llegar a ser - to become
llevar a - to lead to
mandar a - to send to
meterse a - to start to
negarse a - to refuse to
obligar a - to force, compel to
pasar a - to go on to
persuadir a - to persuade to
ponerse a - to begin to, set about
prepararse a - to get ready to
renunciar a - to renounce
resignarse a - to resign oneself to
resistirse a - to resist
tender a - to tend to
volver a - to ___ again
I agree that some verbs require the preposition "a" before an infinitive that follows the verb. There are also verbs which need the prepositions "de" or 'en' or "con". These prepositions help complete the meaning of the verb they follow (i.e. dejar vs dejar de, to let or to allow vs to stop).
The verb "ir" has a special use with the preposition "a" which forms the informal future tense. For example, voy a bailer, which translates into " I am goine to dance" (informal future
The personal "a" points out the direct object of a verb when it is a specific person or a personal pronoun like alguien when it refer to specific a person. Native speakers will also say that the personal "a" also works with family pets.
Yes, you do have to remember which verbs require a preposition with the infinitve but with practice it gets easier.
Thanks for the list! There was no context for the two comments (sorry). When I was challenged by another pokemon trainer, the screen said "A luchar con entrenador Bob". Likewise, for the video comment, the guy commented only one sentence.
You will probably find he was thinking along the lines of, "Voy a luchar con entrenador Bob.. You will notice that the preceeding verb to "luchar" is "ir a" which is from my previous list.